Directed by Anne Fletcher. Produced by Dana Fox, Bruna Papandrea, and Reese Witherspoon. Written by David Feeney and John Quaintance. Release date: May 8, 2015.
The question one has coming out of Hot Pursuit is this: How did two people as talented as Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara agree to both star and produce a movie as terrible as this one? While not the worst comedy of 2015 – Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 takes that prize, and even Unfinished Business and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 are worse than this – Hot Pursuit is a disastrously unfunny movie that fails to even begin to showcase the talents of either leading lady – even if it does frequently showcase the “assets” (in a PG-13 manner of speaking) of at least one of them.
It’s possible that the project was doomed from the start. Witherspoon hasn’t been in a good comedy in over a decade – she’s had a few attempts, but they’ve all been varying degrees of horrible – while Vergara hasn’t been in a good comedy … possibly ever. Outside of Chef, which she was barely in, take a look at her filmography and try to point out a genuinely good film, let alone a good comedy. She’s known for Modern Family, a comedy television show of which I’m not a fan, and outside of that she hasn’t really been in many quality productions. Hot Pursuit takes two people who aren’t particularly funny and tries to makes them deliver stupid jokes. It’s really not a surprise that it didn’t work.
The plot, what little there is, sees Witherspoon as a by-the-book cop who gets tasked with escorting Vergara to a hearing in which she’ll deliver testimony that will put a drug dealer away for life. Cartel members, corrupt cops, and a complete lack of cooperation stand in the way of this goal. Hot Pursuit is like one long buddy chase movie, except you never think there’s even a chance they’ll get caught and we stop every once in a while to make a joke about how Witherspoon is short and Vergara is old.
I wish I was kidding when I say that, but the short/old jokes are some of the most prominent running gags of Hot Pursuit. The rest of the comedy isn’t any smarter. This is a movie whose jokes and gags feel like they assault your intelligence at every step. I cringed more often than I laughed during the film, more because it was embarrassing to see talent like Witherspoon and Vergara stooping to this level. This is the type of movie that you might expect Cameron Diaz or Katherine Heigl to do. Witherspoon is an Oscar nominee! She was in Election! Why would she do this?
Hot Pursuit commits the one sin from which a comedy cannot recover: it isn’t funny.
Our plot features unnecessary twists that exist to pad the running time, the characters are paper-thin, the action is dull and repetitive, and the obligatory romance – which I feel almost deserves to be a proper noun at this point – is horrifically underdeveloped. The film moves at a breezy pace, thankfully concluding before it even hits the 90-minute mark. That’s about its only positive. “It doesn’t stick around all that long” isn’t exactly a compliment.
Honestly, what is most disappointing about Hot Pursuit is how little effort appeared to be put into it. Scenes that you expect to be there are, but handled with such little enthusiasm and creativity that you feel as if you’ve seen the entire movie before. How many more times will we watch people try to escape from a bathroom window? In 2015, is it really funny to see someone express shock at a transsexual? (Note: Yes, that is a “joke” in Hot Pursuit – one that happens just a few minutes in.) Does watching two annoying characters yell and try to humiliate each other for not even 90 minutes make for an entertaining experience? In order: too many, no, and of course not.
Reese Witherspoon, who has earned back some goodwill in recent years for films like Wild, Inherent Vice, and Mud, is committed to Hot Pursuit but looked less than enthused at times. Maybe that was the point, given how Sofía Vergara overacts in each scene – her lack of energy would act as a direct converse to Vergara’s vivacity. Neither is funny, though, and together they have little chemistry. Perhaps with a better script they could have worked well together, but that’s not the world in which we live.
Hot Pursuit commits the one sin from which a comedy cannot recover: it isn’t funny. Almost all flaws in a comedy can be overlooked if you’re laughing frequently, but I laughed maybe once during Hot Pursuit, and that’s a generous “maybe.” It’s a shame that it looks like we’ll have to wait at least another week for a good female-led comedy – Pitch Perfect 2, hopefully – to hit cinema screens in 2015, but thanks to the complete lack of laughs contained within Hot Pursuit‘s minuscule running time, that’s the case.
Bottom Line: A horrible comedy that isn’t funny at all, Hot Pursuit will go down as a low point in the careers of both of its stars.
Recommendation: Hot Pursuit is honestly not worth watching under any circumstances.[rating=1]